The book of Jonah is named after the prophet Jonah. To be a prophet you need to have God speaking to you. We see that there are several prophets in Old Testament. Usually we see, God speaks to the prophets and their books would typically be all about prophecies. But Jonah is a little bit different, this book is not so much about the prophecy but the Word of the Lord comes to Jonah and it’s about his response to the Word. Jonah in this book is given some instructions by God, this book about Jonah isn’t really about Jonah at all and it’s not about a fish either. This book is really about God’s heart towards you and towards me. It’s about His grace. I really believe that it’s never too late to be what you could’ve been. Whatever it is that you have; those dreams, those desires, those ambitions and those things that you wanted to see God do, it’s never too late to see those things happen and be what you could’ve been.
We see that Jonah didn’t like the instructions which God gave him. Jonah in this book struggled with the instructions God gave him. God tells him to go to Nineveh and tell Ninevites to repent and turn back to God. Now you need to know little bit about these Ninevites; these people were evil, they were barbaric, they were into all kinds of idolatry, witchcraft, prostitution, these people were really messed up. Jonah hated these people, he grew up hating these people and now God is telling Jonah to go to these people and preach. He was struggling with these instructions from God. Jonah decided that he is not going to do that. We read in Jonah Chapter 1 verse 1-2, “The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’” But the verse 3 says, “But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish…”
I really believe that often when God tells us to do something and it’s not something we necessarily want to do then we usually head in the opposite direction. And the enemy sure makes it easy for us to do that, to disobey God and to go into different direction, but I believe that even though enemy makes it easy, it’s never really easy to disobey God. Jonah disobeys God and he heads far in the opposite direction as he possibly can. He gets into boat and they go out to sea and then God sends this huge storm to get Jonah’s attention. What I love about the story is that the purpose of the storm was not about get Jonah out but the purpose of the storm was to get Jonah in. It was to call him back to his calling, call him back to the purpose which God had for him. The quickest way to delay your destiny is through disobedience and running away from what God has called you to do. So, we know that Jonah get thrown away from boat, God sends a big fish and fish swallows him up. Again, the fish wasn’t punishment but it was God’s provision, it was a rescue mission to get Jonah back to his calling.
If you are going through that season, when you feel like God is punishing you, you feel like ‘God, why are you doing this to me’, but we need to see this sometimes as God’s rescue mission, we need to see this as God’s provision in our life. Now we see that Jonah was thrown away from boat, he was in the belly of fish. Jonah, because his disobedience, because of the decision he made, he found himself in this place, he was trapped.
If you are going through this kind of a storm in your life now; remember, God wants to teach you something through the life of Jonah. In Jonah chapter 2 vs 1-4 we read, “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.” The first thing we need to do, when we are in the midst of the storm, we need to look up, we need to change our posture through prayer. I love these scripture because of Jonah’s response, even in the midst of storm, even in the midst of being in a fish, things couldn’t get worse and he made a decision to look up. He looked up and that’s so huge because whenever we are in the midst of storm or we are in the midst of whatever tough going through our life, we usually put our heads down and we allow that heaviness and that weight on us and we go in that posture where we look down. Sometimes it’s because of shame, it’s because of guilt or maybe it’s because we don’t know what to do, how to handle it and we often find ourselves in that place where we feel to look down. But I just want to encourage you to look up, to change your posture, through prayer and to cry out to God, and to look up. Whenever we are in the midst of storm in our life, sometimes it’s too easy to walk with our heads down but God just wants to say to you, to look up, look up because He is always pursuing us, He is always chasing after us.
Second thing we see Jonah did, when he was in the midst of storm, chapter 2: 9, “I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you.” Jonah started praising God and lifting God up inside that fish. And then, after he begins to praise, I believe that this is the most important. One of the most incredible scriptures in all the Bible is found in chapter 3 verse 1-2, “Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.’”
I am so thankful that we serve a God of second chances, and not just a God of second chances but third chances, fourteenth chances, forty ninth chance, we serve a God who continues to chase after us, continues to pursue us. And then we know what Jonah did, he obeyed His call, he became His ambassador. I just want to encourage you, don’t miss your destiny, don’t miss your purpose, don’t miss what God is calling you to do, don’t miss that thing for which God is pushing you out to do, because of a detour, because of heading towards a wrong direction, God always try to bring us from the wrong direction to the direction where He wants us to be, that’s why He loves us, that’s why He gives us multiple hundreds and hundreds of chances because He is always chasing after us. God calls us up so He can send us out. We are called to know God and make Him known.
The last thing is, God wants to change your path through obedience. We just need to simply do what God called us to do, to do that sometimes we just need to make a U-turn. When we make a U-turn, we start hearing His voice, He starts guiding us and lead us. And so, as we look up, as we lift-up and we change our path through obedience, sometimes it involves making a U-turn, and that U-turn sometimes isn’t the direction of other people, that’s what it’s called to go out. God desires to use us in the lives of other people. God wants us to love Him and love others. The reason why God wants us to be sent out, the reason why He wants us to go back to our calling, our purpose, so we can be there for someone else.
If you are going through a storm, if you are feeling low in your life, this is the time to make a U-turn, as Jonah did. God has a purpose through your life. Look up from inside the fish and change your path through obedience. God is a God of second chances, He is calling you.